!Read me First
Underground in the Fifties
The Angry No
The Transcendent Yes
Alternative Life Styles
The Tug of Gravity:Co-option, Absorption, and Shlock Rock
Artiness, Absurdity, and Excess
The Seventies: Looking Back, Looking Ahead
Eighteen years of American dream... Did you see him? - Neil Young, "Broken Arrow"
popular archetype:Mark Rudd and the Weathermen (as in Bob Dylan's line "You don't need a
weather man to know which way the wind blows")
moment:October 1968 Weathermen bomb the CIA building in Ann Arbor, a U.S military station
and another building in Detroit
slogan:"Up against the Wall, M*****F*****!"
song::"Volunteers" by Jefferson Airplane ("We're all outlaws
in the eyes of America")
The sixties will be remembered as the Age of the Great Rejection. Racism, militarism, Big Brotherism, censorship, commercialism, sexism,
organization, inhibition, liberalism, conservatism, Mr. Chipsism, poverty, pollution, bureaucracy, reason, progress, deliberation, efficiency, domestic tranquility
- even the virtues that are really virtues, like consideration and patience and humility - the sixties exploded Western civilization, clearing the way for pioneers and exploration.
Two signs of the distressing times
This wholesale negation, this angry no, was much misunderstood by America's elders who took it to be simple nihilism. It was exactly the opposite.
First, it represented a great opening of the mind and spirit, a rejection of conventions and a demand for meaningful choices.
Second, the angry no grew directly out of a
fervent affirmation of American ideals. As sixties
people saw it, the real sellout was to be found in the
times they had known as adolescents: a betrayal of the
ideals of freedom, justice, and equality. Their elders' easy
accomodation to injustice, corruption, and patent lunacy maddened children
of the sixties, whose no was a no to a no: a yes. It is in this context of denial
as affirmation that the decade must be viewed.
"Just before the end even treason might be worth a try." - Phil Ochs, The War is Over
There were others as well. Woody Guthrie had written on his banjo, "This machine kills fascists".
Woody Guthrie sound clip (189 KB)
Between September 16 and October 15, 1968 - one month of
one year of one decade - over two hundred separate
incidents of protest were reported in the New York
Times and Washington Post.
How many convinced they could not participate in an
immoral and stupid war, slipped across the
Canadian border that month? How many hundreds of
thousands of friends and family were lost because
of the rigid moral stands the flower children took?
"If you decide to burn your draft card then burn your
birth certificate at the same time. From that moment I have no son."
- Victor Lundberg, "An Open letter to My Teenage Son"
And if protest meant going down, then that was okay because you were
going down in a good cause and that was the kind of commitment you were
"If somebody points a gun at me, I'll do my best to point one back." - Jefferson Airplane
Oh, what'll you do now, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, what'll you do now, my darling young one?
Where the people are many and their hands are all empty,
Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters,
Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten,
Where black is the color, where none is the number,
And it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard,
It's a hard rain's a-gonna fall.
- Bob dylan, "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" 1963